Potentials for Real New Age History "The ignorant are liberated through necessity, the wise through

choice." (Hall 95) At this point in the history of humankind, any writing seeking to clarify what has happened is daunting, yet seems far more sensible and achievable than to try and accurately depict what is happening now. The mass of literature on every sphere of human activity, penetrating every realm of human thought, is mushrooming with every passing day; how is a student of contemporary history to even begin organizing and analyzing such an impossibly vast array of scholarship? Not only this, there appears to be a great deal of debate and confusion over exactly what kind of world we are all living in. Clearly there is no one (or even a few) economic, religious or political rationales that can be universally applied and accepted, and it seems feeble to offer such when so many peoples are clearly rejecting the interference of others, as in the increasingly anti-West Middle East. Though his synthesis of deeply rooted cultural antagonisms concentrates on recent and ongoing conflicts within and between nations, Samuel P. Huntington offers a small hint of a solution: "In a multicivilizational world, the constructive course is to renounce universalism, accept diversity, and seek commonalities." (Huntington 318) For a world undergoing rapid technological and social change, ideas that can be creatively adapted by very different people to further non-violent cultural exchange are desperately needed. Historians now must confront a chaotic mix of differing Weltanschauungen, ethnic rivalries and international divides in political stability and levels of education, health and poverty; at a time when repeating our historical mistakes could have heavier consequences for our survival than ever before, there seems to be an impetus on academics to treat alternatives with consideration. This paper proposes that the current needs of a highly stressed global citizenry (and an equally stressed environment) necessitate a blending of holistic principles and practical approaches to ecological and social crises. Three entry points explored here are Ken Wilber's spiral of 'memes', a psychological tool for understanding human evolution as a progression of consciousness, Gaia theory as a rearticulated 'Mother Earth' paradigm and the concept of a noosphere or 'mental envelope' as an emergent layer of the biosphere. Environmental educator David Orr says, "The crisis we face is first and foremost one of mind, perceptions, and values; hence, it is a challenge to those institutions presuming to shape minds, perceptions, and values. It is an educational challenge. More of the same kind of education can only make things worse." (Reason 1) Spiritual education (within and without established religious institutions) and scientific comprehension of the natural world must be given fuller treatment as complementary forces in accessible academia so that gradually more people are encouraged to explore and appreciate the fundamental interconnectedness of all life. Modern scientists, spiritual teachers, historians and philosophers, though stemming from distinct traditions, can all speak through a truly global 'network', now electronic, that operates in all spheres of human activity and can potentially transcend linguistic, religious and political differences. Yet our rapidly improving communications technology is perhaps at present more a contributer to factionalization and mediocrity than global cultural awareness - not

to mention the legion opportunities for lying, spying and other generally deconstructive activities that await the unwary cyber adventurer. (Lathane 103) To overcome the real and virtual separation in today's world, what is needed are intellectual challenges to the status quo on what universal qualities humanity does share, exoterically and esoterically. Karl Mannheim writes, "Should the capacity to acquire a broader point of view be considered merely as a liability? Does it not rather represent a mission? Only he who really has the choice has an interest in seeing the whole of the social and political structure." (Mannheim 161) Indeed, this is the requirement of all who seek to convey some understanding of physical events and mental processes that can have far-reaching and usable implications: Each cycle must add the gain of further research and scientific endeavour, and subract that which is worn out and of no value. Each age must build in the product and triumphs of its period, and abstract the accretions of the past that would dim and blur the outline. Above all, to each generation is given the joy of demonstrating the strength of the old foundations, and the opportunity to build up on these foundations a structure that will meet the needs of the inner evolving life. (Bailey 2) The evolving consciousness laid out by Ken Wilber posits a teleology we as mentally expanding beings can learn to direct, rather allowing a too-great reliance on technology or a too-narrow conception of God to dictate present action. Indeed, in Up From Eden, he refers to all scientific and theological exploration as "perennial philosophy", meaning one requires no set belief to understand human nature, but only the recognition of that which already is and has always been: addressing the historicism of the Abrahamic religions, "...history is not the story of an unfolding pact between man and God, but the story of the unfolding of the relationship between man and the ultimate Whole. Since this Wholeness is contiguous with consciousness itself, we can also say that history is the unfolding of human consciousness." (Wilber 7) Wilber is not claiming there is no multiplicity in Nature, human or otherwise, but simply that rational thought and technology now must incorporate other elements of human experience to fully engage with the world as one entity containing many valuable aspects of mind and matter. In A Theory of Everything, Wilber sets out a framework of evolutionary expansion that accounts for all human types and belief systems. In our world that divisions over colour, creed and economics are often a cause of disagreement and this past century, have manifested as unprecedented bloodbaths and lasting international hostilities. (Wilber Up From Eden 150) Wilber begins with a definition from Claire Graves, one of many scholars whose view on evolution take a 'cyclical' rather than linear shape: "...the psychology of the mature human being is an unfolding, emergent, oscillating spiraling process marked by progressive subordination of older, lower-order behaviour systems to newer, higher-order systerms as an individual'as existential problems change". (Wilber

TOE 6) As such, every level of an individual's life, from the mentally conceived to emotionally felt to physically acted, is subject to the level of consciousness that person has attained. Wilber goes on to define eight major levels of consciousness that encompass all varieties of human mind: called 'memes', each step is colour-coded and progression can only occur in order from the lowest meme to the highest, while each higher meme has not left behind but rather, includes those below. The memes are designed as follows: Beige: Archaic/Instinctual, Purple: Magical/Animistic, Red: Power Gods, Blue: Mythic Order, Orange: Scientific Achievement, Green: The Sensitive Self. At this point, when an individual is ready to transcend the green meme, a 'second tier' of consciousness is reached, so called because its applications are controlled through spiritual development and only here does a real awareness of each meme's relative importance to the whole become clear. So it goes on to Yellow: Integrative and Turquoise: Holistic; "Turqoise thinking uses the entire Spiral; sees multiple levels of interaction; detects harmonics, the mystical forces, and the pervasive flow-states that permeate any organization." (Wilber 9-13) The two upper-tier memes are definetely the least-known by humanity at present and probably only occupied by those actively pursuing and not merely discussing, the ideas found in great religious teachings from around the world. Though the system might be construed as yet another hierarchy, it is predicated on the observation that humanity has passed through various stages of comprehending the world as an increasingly expansive familial group, one which Dr. L. Robert Keck asserts has only now reached 'adolesence'. (Keck 38) Despite all outward appearances of difference, the basic tenets that we still share genetic origins and a planetary home hold true, so if there are people seeming to function from a perspective of all-inclusiveness, that suggests there is further to go and we have by no means reached any end to historical thought or action. So why is this Spiral system so relevant for contemporary historians? For one, it is flexible and open, containing every specifically defined mental state or political activity. As Wilber states, "...the point is that we can rather easily classify types of worldviews according to the level of the worldview itself...sexual and vital worldviews, such as Freud and Bergsen, are said to stem predominantly from the level of biological life, or the beige meme; power worldviews, such as Nietzsche, from orange; postmodernism, such as Derrida and Lyotard, green..." (Wilber TOE 111) Thus we have a model that can accomodate the most distantly related of theorems, and situate the fantastic, the mystical and the rational in a Spiral of evolutionary potential where each meme has dominated the mass of humanity for a time before large groups collectively achieved a higher state. This said, there are many people whose interests and activities reach a higher meme than that of their social group, and often these people are noticed (sometimes ostracized) for their precociousness. Wilber juxtaposes the Spiral system with four quadrants to deepen the possibilities for situating worldviews and religious beliefs according to what pyschological realm of the evolving human mind they represent. A simple grid illustrates how "Individual consciousness is inextricably intermeshed with the objective organism and brain (Upper Right quadrant); with nature, social systems and environment (Lower-Right quadrant); and with cultural settings, communal values and worldviews (Lower-Left quandrant)", while "mind-consciousness" is the the Upper Left quadrant. (Wilber 49) Wilber's Spiral of coloured memes and quadrants can be usefully employed in

writing contemporary history that perceives all values as essentially equal, yet realizes not all are equally applicable in the real world at the same time. (Wilber 112) Again, this is not because the belief or Weltanschaung itself was lacking in truth, but because it was a product of a particular historical situation and therefore could not contain an 'entire' or universal truth but only that of its meme in relation to the whole Spiral. Francis Fukuyama points out realpolitik/realism, a dominating theory of international capitalist relations, is based on the "assumption that insecurity is a universal and permanent feature of the international order, due to the latter's abidingly anarchic character", and he concludes that realism's weaknesses, such as an actual disregard for history, render it insufficient as a sustainable base on which to build our new history. (Fukuyama 24, 258) Wilber comments on Fukuyama's proposition that the Western 'liberal-economic state' is the highest universal order achievable by situating Fukuyama's system in the Spiral: though it has many useful insights for this convoluted historical epoch, "...his analysis holds only for the egoic-rational, post-conventional, worldcentric levels (orange and green)...that leaves out the pre-orange stages of development that hold the majority of the world's population." (Wilber 115) Those societies who have not collectively progressed through "archaic, magic and mythic" memes of consciousness cannot fully engage with economic liberalism because their material realities are conditioned by different truths. The people who have defined and put realism into practice may have been acting in accordance with the perceived needs of Western society's march onward into liberal democracy and global capitalist competition, but pure intellectual prowess, military power and market strength do not connote a particularly high meme of consciousness, as the higher colours indicate a growth of compassionate awareness of the needs of all life, something most corporations and even many democratic leaders clearly lack. An example of an individual clearly operating from a higher meme than many other world leaders is Samdhong Rinpoche, Prime Minister of the Tibetan Exile Government located in Northern India: regarding the Iraq war and other ongoing conflicts, he says "...the only instance which is thriving on war at this time is the commerical side of the weapons industry, and it is deconscienced and has become a profitable trade...power is unnecessary, balance of power is impossible, and nations cannot defend themselves by military means alone." (Roebert 95) This is not to say real threats do not now exist in the world; but Rinpoche and others thinking from higher memes are suggesting if nations continue preparing for conflicts that have not yet come about, they are basically ensuring that at some point conflict will occur because capitalist interests are guarded so jealously, and the nature of capitalism begets often agressive competition. The means cannot justify the ends for a higher-meme thinker because millenia of warring have nonetheless been accompanied by development along more organic modes of thought and being, and it is clear the needs of an entire humanity demand national responses that will finally transcend an invade-and conquer-mentality. If at this time such a deviation from our historical 'norms' seems nonsensical, begging the question of how new mentalities could flourish and take physical expression, perhaps one should consider the equally threatening question of how things could feasibly continue in the present direction. Thus, there is a necessity for academics to self-reflect on the unconscious drives and conditioning in their own work so that those in a position to influence social attitudes may operate intelligently from higher consciousness without denigrating the ideas and views of other memes.

The Jesuit mystic and theorist Teilhard de Chardin, writing throughout the mid20th century, formulated the concept of the 'noosphere', (discussed below) and other ideas about universal peace that bear on the lower-meme consciousness still dominating most of present humanity. In the 1960s he wrote, "At present the majority of men do not yet understand force...except in its most primitive and savage form of war. This is perhaps why it is still necessary for us to continue for some time still to manufacture ever greater and more destructive weapons...But may the moment come (and it will come) when the masses realize that the true human victories are those over the mysteries of matter and life..." (King 88) Of course, only hearing occasional such pieces of wisdom will not convince anyone who observes the external activity of the world today, nor likely to one with any historical knowledge of the past several thousand years, in which competition between groups and the struggle for survival seem to render laughable any notion of a once-experienced unity that could be replicated again. Unless, that is, theoretical holisms like Wilber's can be enriched further with a deeper understanding of human spiritual evolution as intimately bound up with the earth's own evolution. There is no getting around the existence of extreme cynicism from those who consider such attempts a fallacy in an age of super-intelligent computers, yet as Alan P. Fertziger wisely counsels, We seem to have a propensity to forget that assumptions, many of which are untestable, do create one's world view. Just as religion is based on assumptions of faith, so too is materialist science built on an assumptional foundation. When man forgets this crucial epistemological reality, it is then only a short next step toward dogma and the tyranny of thought that has been so much a part of the recorded history of civilized man. (Fertziger) We must remember at this time in history that the proliferation of human industrial and recreational is heavily impacting our earth. This is definetely a tremendous part of the urge for expanding consciousness, and no matter the spiritual or intellectual path advocates tout, the condition of our only home, our incredible life-giving planet, is of fundamental importance to our own health and safety. To see the earth as 'the environment' carries the danger of reducing individual and group reverence for life's variance to a static and unemotional calculation of 'resources' which can be used to fuel economic competition and consumer culture. (Keck 77) At this time, historians must consider how human activity has evolved to bound up in material pursuits, and whatever economic theories or industrial developments exist do depend on finite material substance. Amidst the overconsumption of non-renewable resources like oil, pollution of air, soil and water and a myriad of related health issues, the "one process now ongoing that will take millions of years to correct is the loss of genetic and species diversity by the destruction of natural habitats." (Hull 103) As thousands of species have already been pushed into extinction by encroaching human activity, it does seem vital for holistic paradigms of the earth to emerge, that is, ways of accomodating the needs of our

natural domain in a culture that has been increasingly devoted to producing and disposing unnatural and unhealthy objects. Environmentalism and 'green' consumerism are two well-known facets of internationally growing measures to conserve and protect the earth, but they will not be studied here at length. Rather, I would like to draw attention to the possibility of Gaia theory as a new forum for exploring material solutions and heightening spiritual awareness - which can then lead to concentrated higher-meme thinking and action. As R. Bruce Hull remarks in Infinite Nature, "The more people care about nature, the more we are likely to mobilize the political support needed to rein in unsustainable behaviours and create thriving communities." (Hull 216) A new vision of the earth has been in the making for decades; the ecological advocate Aldo Leopold, working in the first part of the 20th century, warned of placing purely human progress ahead of sustainable human-and-nature cocepts of social development: he suggested bringing people's attention to the aesthetic qualities of nature in order to open them to education on the needs of their local environs, thereby facilitating greater willingness to give up certain personal freedoms (for instance, a car) for the good of the greater community. (Hull 51-53) Although the modern world's deeply ingrained consumer habits can be justified according to many economic or political rationales (the creation of jobs, or the forging of trade connections), this is another area in which the socially operative meme of consciousness has largely not been extended past the level of orange, or scientific-rational thought. The pursuit of newer technologies and marketable products ignores not only the natural world but also the ancient spiritual connection many peoples assert we once had as a species and lost, a transition in physical and emotional evolution that many associate with growing human populations and the beginning of agriculture, as well as the metaphorical "fall" of humanity from a state of grace. (Keck 39) Hence the adoption of many seeking a connection with the natural world, of an old word for earth, Gaia, "named for the Greek goddess who conjured the living world from chaos". (Gaia's Handmaidens) According to Peter Reason, Gaia theory "...sees planet Earth as a self-organizing whole, maybe a living being. Gaia theory derives from scientific inquiry into the systemic, interconnected nature of the planet—planetary systems science. It can also be seen symbolically as a rediscovery of anima mundi, the soul of the world." (Reason 30) This marriage of scientific observation and spiritual contemplation might seem strange, but I am convinced that road less travelled is the only one left to take, for it is the only road we have not historically tested. The connotations of Gaia are many, and have been given considerable attention within the many realms of 'New Age' thought and social movement. This should be addressed, for as Steven Sutcliffe points out, "...since the 1970s, under pressure from postmodern culture, the arena within which 'New Age' voices have been raised has no overarching purpose or telos, no compelling agenda, beyond that of expressing whatever 'spiritual' values are deemed appropriate for the person or group in the moment at hand and upholding the rights of 'others' (within certain demographic constraints) to do much the same." (Sutcliffe 21) The 'New Age' cannot be simply classified as any one 'type' of social movement precisely because in essence, it actively embodies Samuel P. Huntington's suggestion of embracing diversity while seeking commonalities. Many members, while occupying diverse positions in politics, white and blue collar work, healing professions and entertainment, and who participate in all manner of religious or secular spiritual practices, do uphold tenets prevalent in Gaia theory that speak to

universally applicable spiritual principles. A basic idea that can be usefully employed within any culture is that "...mere purposive rationality unaided by phenomena such as art, religion, dream and the like, is necessarily pathogenic and destructive of life..." (Reason 34) This is echoed by Samdhong Rinpoche: So each individual or human being at this moment has a very heavy responsibility, an onerously important responsibility to be accountable for saving the earth, for saving all the living beings on theis earth, and in order to save the cultural diversity and many good institutions...but there is so much to lose in terms of the good things we have created: art, architecture, spirituality, music, dance, monuments; so many of these things are important and abundant on the earth, and they too can be destroyed. We have to act to save these things. And for that purpose the message of love and compassion, the message of cooperation, are absolutely essential. (Roebert 109) A marker of scientific/spiritual convergence - or, one might say, able functioning within and between several memes at once - is the melding of technical jargon with emotional expressions of wonderment and love for humanity and nature, necessarily 'softening' materialist science with a profound recognition of the personal immersion in a living and intelligent universe. A unique proposal for applying such principles to threatened animals and landscapes can be found in the Orlog model of Gaian theory, which uses a Norse myth of three sisters protecting a tree from being devoured by a dragon: "Their names are Urd, Verdandi, and Skuld, which translate to Past, Present, and Future. These sisters, known as the Norns, are essentially Gaia's handmaidens, in an explicit temporal framework that matches the conservation roles of phylogenetics, ecology, and evolution". (Gaia's Handmaidens) By picturing biological concepts as living forces themselves that interact through the manifold personalities engaged in researching Gaia, Brian W. Bowen and Joe Roman offer a way for different disciplines to convene on the same problems, effectively working across memes of consciousness to repair damage to species and land. In order to explore another related area of evolution from a Gaian perspective, the idea of the noosphere can now be addressed. The word and original definitions arose from discussions between "a French philosopher (Edouard Le Roy), a French palaeontologist and priest (Pierre Teilhard de Chardin) and a Russian biogeochemist (Vladimir I. Vernadsky)" (Turner) Though contested somewhat in the following decades, the noosphere has been most widely accepted in Vernadsky's terms: "...a new form of the biosphere, a biogeochemical cycling entity that includes all life as well as its associated atmosphere and lithosphere." (Turner) This new addition to the physical structure of earth cannot be physically observed, but intellectual convergence on the subject of human

thought and current world structures should prompt its serious consideration by historians, who are often the harbingers of new thought paradigms themselves. David P. Turner says, ...thoughts are not envisioned as existing independently of human minds or of being transmitted by non-physical means. The capacity for abstract thought is just another product of biological evolution, albeit an unusual one because it introduces a subjective element into the workings of the brain. Over time, a volitional capacity — based on shared mental constructs — has become a feature of increasingly larger human organizations, with corresponding influences on the environment. The noosphere concept extends that capacity to the global scale. (Turner) The noosphere as conceived by Chardin and Vernadsky is a planetary mind, the culmination of all human mental energy, and as it functions within the Gaian body, it is therefore an inherent causal factor in the distress the natural world is currently experiencing. The idea is also accessible from a more rational-scientific mode of thought, for seeing the human as embedded down to the molecular level in a much greater 'network' produces individuals that are constructed "as something more than the mere epiphenomenon of internal molecular forces on one hand and external selective pressures on the other—more, that is, than the product of genes and the victim of environment." (Dougherty) The noosphere is not only a theory of thought, or pure thought itself. According to Jose Arguelles, a pioneer of the Mayan cosmology, it is a stage of historical transition from the chaotic times we live in to the next phase of our evolution; in order to comprehend how this is so, first the biosphere itself must be understood: Without becoming conscious of how the human organism participates in the laws and principles of the biosphere, the human will continue to remain ignorant of the biosphere's existence and therefore will soone rather than later reach a termination of its own evolutionary possibility. (Arguelles, 10) Arguelles might sound apocalyptic, but he is basically restating the fear of environmental and anti-war activists, except that he situates our present crises within Gaia theory. He also adds yet another recent layer to the biosphere of Gaia, which he calls the technosphere. This is composed of pollutants in the air which damage our ozone and obscure the noosphere, which is not able to become a fully functioning planetary mind (in which we all participate) until we have universally decided to make it so: "...the technosphere is the concluding stage of history, to be followed by the post-historical noosphere". (Arguelles 30) Such radical ideas of universalism should present an exciting

opportunity for academia, which has debated existential and metaphysical notions in light of many historical eras and cultures; perhaps greater discussion of related ideals will encourage people to explore the practical solutions Arguelles offers, primarily in the form of a universal calendar change. (Arg 5) Indeed, he states, "Because of human adaptation to the irregular mechanized 12:60 timing frequency, the technosphere runs counter to the laws of the biosphere, creating a magnetic instability between the primal crystalline and vital organic processes." (Arg 6) There is not enough space to consider his lengthy revelations here on the Law of Time and multidimensional reality, but I do think that a new evolutionary perspective via the Mayan cosmology will become vital to contemporary historical study - and it certainly operates from the second-tier memes, a must for any universalism. Conservative religious ideals of a far-away God and a select people tend to falter before the universalism of science, wherein all can be reduced to elemental and molecular composition, and our every feature a result of countless tiny repetitions of DNA, so it is time to re-cast our current historical knowledge in a more holistic fashion. By extending the network theory of responsive particles that make up the universe into a green or even a yellow meme reveals natural laws working from the greatest natural creations to the smallest, allowing a sense of real divinity to emerge. Following Teilhard de Chardin's line of thought, this can also be construed as love: Humanity, the spirit of the Earth, the synthesis of the individual and peoples, the paradoxical reconciliation of the element and the whole, of unity and multitude - for all these things, said to be so utopian, yet which are so biologically necessary, to actually take shape in the world, is not all we need to do, to imagine that our power of loving develops until it embraces the totality of men and women and of the Earth? Precisely the most fundamental form of passion is missing...the passion of cosmic affinity and as a result the cosmic sense. A love that embraces the universe is not only something psychologically possible; it is also the only complete and final way in which we can love. (King, 87) Finally, the real subject is approached. If 'all we need is love', then why hasn't such a seemingly simple - and accessible - solution yet been applied to the world's suffering people? Truly, this would require changes i perspective and behaviour that would stagger those with fixed ideas of cultural division; yet I must insist on the place of love in new historical paradigms that can be used to educate people of any class, ethnic origin or sexual disposition. The kind of love Chardin speaks about goes beyond even deep commitment to healing Gaia; he speaks of all-encompassing, all-pervading love that can only be felt when one begins to explore different intellectual and spiritual paths, and that can possibly begin occuring if those in a position to articulate such universal ideas begin making communal efforts to bridge disciplines and reach new mass audiences through

our electronic mediums - going further, to do so in order that the technosphere then be left behind for the organic spiritual unity of a noosphere. It is not only our present earthwasting, internationally divisive or spiritually apathetic behaviour that are problems; most people on the planet have no uniform way to implement any of the universal concepts we have discussed, and little idea they are acting from any meme at all, let alone one that does not allow for expanded views on history and human evolution. The independent articulation of ideas depends on openess or rigidity in religous attitudes, morals and political ideals, which correspond to the overall value system of a population, itself historically and geographically shaped. At this time, more people are concurrently alive and thinking than ever before in the long history of our planet and our species; with so many people viewing life through unique lenses, the appearance of disunity in almost every societal class, institution, and between all theoretically divergent political and religous traditions can seem absolutely overwhelming, or at the least, render laughable any 'one' be-all end-all unifying theorem for history. Yet what I have attempted here is to outline some beginning steps for a more expanded contemporary historiography, one which seeks not to prophecy but to prepare for wherever we as a planet are heading. There is ample evidence for humanity's having approached a point where spiritual convergence, or 'unity consciousness' is not only possible but for all practical purposes, of the greatest import; it requires educating people to life them out of mentally stifling memes, while also addressing the absolutely unnecessary inequal distribution of global wealth and the destruction of the Gaian body. As a global society, we have a vast array scientific and spiritual 'tools', and it is the responsibility of social commentators, whatever the discipline, to become well-versed in a multitude of subjects and write for a diverse audience. This will require thorough inquiry into spiritual possibilities on the individual level; I think no major societal changes will come about in regards to a 'noospheric transition' or other 'New Age' utopian ideals unless people are motivated to pursue individual revelations of consciousness. Every spiritual tradition is replete with opportunities to reach Gaia and the divine, and the entire universe is all around us, no matter how far we drive or how loudly we turn up the speakers. Only through changing ourselves will we change our world, and only through communicating truly higher-meme ideas to greater numbers will we learn to observe that what is shared goes infinitely deeper than what divides.

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